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Ask Slashdot: What Can You Do About SOPA and PIPA? 1002

Wednesday is here, and with it sites around the internet are going under temporary blackout to protest two pieces of legislation currently making their way through the U.S. Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect-IP Act (PIPA). Wikipedia, reddit, the Free Software Foundation, Google, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, imgur, Mozilla, and many others have all made major changes to their sites or shut down altogether in protest. These sites, as well as technology experts (PDF) around the world and everyone here at Slashdot, think SOPA and PIPA pose unacceptable risks to freedom of speech and the uncensored nature of the internet. The purpose of the protests is to educate people — to let them know this legislation will damage websites you use and enjoy every day, despite being unrelated to the stated purpose of both bills. So, we ask you: what can you do to stop SOPA and PIPA? You may have heard the House has shelved SOPA, and that President Obama has pledged not to pass it as-is, but the MPAA and SOPA-sponsor Lamar Smith (R-TX) are trying to brush off the protests as a stunt, and Smith has announced markup for the bill will resume in February. Meanwhile, PIPA is still present in the Senate, and it remains a threat. Read on for more about why these bills are bad news, and how to contact your representative to let them know it.

Note: This will be the last story we post today until 6pm EST in protest of SOPA.
Why is it bad?

The Stop Online Piracy Act is H.R.3261, and the Protect-IP Act is S.968.

The intent of both pieces of legislation is to combat online piracy, giving the Attorney General and the Department of Justice power to block domain name services and demand that links be stripped from sites not involved in piracy. The problem is that the legislation, as written, is vague and overly-broad. For one thing, it classifies internet sites as "foreign" or "domestic" based entirely on their domain name. A site hosted abroad like could be classified as "domestic" because the .org TLD is registered through a U.S. authority. By defining it as "domestic," Wikileaks would then fall under the jurisdiction of U.S. laws. Other provisions are worded even more poorly: in Section 103, SOPA lays out the definition for a "foreign infringing site" as one where "the owner or operator of such Internet site is committing or facilitating the commission of criminal violations punishable under [provisions relating to counterfeiting and copyright infringement]." The problematic word is facilitating, as it opens the door to condemning sites that simply link to other sites.

The most obvious implication of this is that search engines would suddenly be responsible for monitoring and policing everything they index. Google indexed its trillionth concurrent URL in 2008. Can you imagine how many people it would take to double check all of them for infringing content? But the job wouldn't end at simply looking at them — Google would have to continually monitor them. Google would also have to somehow keep track of the billions of new sites that spring up daily, many of which would be trying to avoid close scrutiny. Of course, it's an impossible task, so there would need to be automated solutions. Automation being imperfect, it would leave us with false positives. Or perhaps sites would need to be "approved" to be listed. Either way, we'd then be dealing with censorship on a massive scale, and the infringing sites themselves would continue to pop up.

But the problems don't end there; in fact, SOPA defines "Internet search engine" as a service that "searches, crawls, categorizes, or indexes information or Web sites available elsewhere on the Internet" and links to them. That's pretty much what we do here at Slashdot. It's also something the fine folks at Wikipedia and reddit do on a regular basis. The strength of all three sites is that they're heavily dependent on user-generated content. Every day at Slashdot, readers deposit hundreds and hundreds of links into our submissions bin. Thousands of comments are made daily. We have a system to surface the good content, but the chaff still exists. If we suddenly had a mandate to retroactively filter out all the links to potentially copyright-infringing sites in our database, we wouldn't have many options. We're talking about reviewing hundreds of thousands of submissions, and every comment on 117,000+ stories. And we're far from the biggest site around — imagine social networks needing to police their content, and all the privacy issues that would raise.

Small sites and new sites would be hurt, too. A website isn't a single, discrete entity that exists on its own. A new company starting up a site would have to worry about its webhost, registrar, content provider, ISP, etc. The legislation would also raise significant financial obstacles. New companies need investments, and that would be much less likely (PDF) if the company could be held liable for content uploaded by users. On top of that, if the site was unable to live up to the vague standards set by the government and the entertainment industry, they could be on the receiving end of a lawsuit, which would be expensive to fight even if they won (and such laws would never, ever be abused). It's hard to conceptualize the internet without noting its unrivaled growth, and SOPA/PIPA would surely stifle it.

This legislation hits near and dear to the hearts of many Slashdotters; if SOPA/PIPA pass, IT staff for companies small and large are going to have their hands full making sure they aren't opening themselves to legal action or government intervention. Mailing lists, used commonly and extensively among open source software projects, would be endangered. Code repositories would need be scoured for infringing content; the bill allows for the strangling of revenue sources if its anti-infringement rules aren't being met. VPN and proxy services become only questionably legal. The very nature of the open source community — as the EFF puts it, "decentralized, voluntary, international" — is not compatible with the burdens placed on internet sites by SOPA and PIPA.

What can we do?

So, what can we do about it? There are two big things: contact your representative, and spread the word. Slashdot readers, on the whole, are more technically-minded than the average internet user, so you're all in a position to share your wisdom with the less internet-savvy people in your life, and get them to contact their representative, too. Here's some useful information for doing so:

Propublica has a list of all SOPA/PIPA supporters and opponents.
Here is the Senate contact list and the House contact list.
You can also use the EFF's form-letter, the Stop American Censorship form-letter, or sign Google's petition.
If you don't live in the U.S., you can petition the State Department. (And yes, you have a dog in this fight.)
SOPAStrike has a list of companies participating in the protest, and this crowd-sourced Google Doc tracks companies that support the legislation. Tell those companies what you think.

Further reading: Wikipedia has left their SOPA and PIPA pages up. The EFF has a series of articles explaining in more depth what is wrong with the bills. Here are some protest letters written to Congress from human rights groups, law professors, and internet companies.

Go forth and educate.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: What Can You Do About SOPA and PIPA?

Comments Filter:
  • Not Blacked Out? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @09:10AM (#38737342)

    Why is slashdot ignoring the blackout?
    With so many links to questionable content, this illegal news source seems like a hive of crime.

  • by Speare (84249) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @09:16AM (#38737400) Homepage Journal

    This morning on NPR's Marketplace Morning Report, there was a footnote similar to a few other mass media articles I've seen. They pointed out that if necessary, you could use Google's "cached copy" of a site like Wikipedia, if you are otherwise blocked by the SOPA front page. It's like a digital scab on the picket line.

    Then it struck me: isn't this advice a sort of inducement to piracy, and therefore a strong statement about SOPA's odious nature? If a site blocks its own publication of data, say, Sony/EMG/WarnerBros takes down its own webpage, isn't relying on a third party copy to get that content without their authorization just another form of "stealing" in their eyes? Wikipedia content is under some copyleft premise, but I don't think that changes the point: there are times that everyday reasonable activities can be construed as piracy in ways that a law or a technology can never adequately distinguish.

  • I get the concerns (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thepainguy (1436453) <> on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @09:20AM (#38737452) Homepage
    God knows, I don't know how many times a sales guy, or some piece of legislation, proposed something that would have been awesome in theory but that was just totally unmanageable in practice. On more than a few occasions I have seen these features go into production over my protests, only to see them die a rapid death when management realized how much time it was taking to keep them up.

    Having said that, I'm also an author and copyright owner and my book can be found on multiple pirate and other sites around the Internet. I would love the ability to press a button or fill out a form and have the link removed from every index.

    To be honest, I don't know how many sales this is costing me, but not knowing isn't a particularly comfortable feeling. Maybe the big boys can just blow off a certain amount of piracy, but I'm still very small and every sale, or lost sale, makes a difference.
  • by Tomsk70 (984457) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @09:20AM (#38737462)

    ...and got a response saying that the link did not complete because the site was down in protest over SOPA.

    Isn't that shooting yourself in the foot a bit?

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @09:21AM (#38737476)

    I listened to a clip of senate hearings on NPR this morning. After a stream of warnings by PIPA opponents, Patrick Leahy (D) said something to the effect of "If this bill is as bad as you say, it won't get five votes. If it protects content providers from piracy, it will pass easily."

    Way to ignore the point. He is admitting the rest of the country can burn as long as content industries are happy. That is the definition of special interest control.

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @09:25AM (#38737516) Homepage Journal

    The only correct thing to do is to abolish all copyrights and patents and to prevent complete decay and decline of the political and economic systems.

    more []
    comments []
    on this same []
    topic []

    I am posting the links to the comments here, because they apply to each and every situation and you can follow those threads if you are wondering as to how /. crowd responds to the idea, and it's not favourable here.

    The reason why /. crowd doesn't like the idea of abolishing copyrights and patents is due to high degree of hypocrisy. How many people want to see government picking up the bills for other types of failing businesses, like stores, manufacturers, miners, medical clinics, transport companies, telecoms, banks, insurance, etc.etc.?

    The point is that copyrights and patents are standing on the way of innovation and invention and economic progress rather than helping it in any way.

    In one of the threads I mentioned the case of Louis C.K. - he didn't need the copyright laws to protect him from anything, he is not going after people downloading his show for free, but he is offering to download his show from his site for $5 a pop and he made over million bucks by now. In that thread [] people argued that copyright still applies to Louis C.K. work, but they missed the point - he specifically offered a non-DRMed version and he said that he understood that people would be sharing his show on torrents and download sites, and it didn't bother him, it was a business risk he was willing to take.

    Just like a new restaurant owner takes a business risk of opening his business in some specific location, sinking his capital into it (or borrowed capital) and risking losing the investment and time it took to build up that investment capital. Same thing with somebody writing a book or a play or a song or a shooting a movie or a show or painting a picture, whatever, it takes time to build up capital to open a restaurant, it takes time to write a book, it takes time (money) to make a show.

    It does not matter to the market how you do it - you shouldn't be protected from failure in the market by government, nobody should be protected that way, it distorts the market, and just like with protections of money (default on gold promise in 1971), protection of mortgages (insurance by FHA, F&F,) FDIC, any type of protection by government, it all turns sour and goes bad and hurts the economy.

    The only correct way is to let the market function, those who can rely on trade secrets should do so, but this encourages competition if there is no government protection against failure.

    If Louis C.K. sucked and his shows weren't popular, he would have lost his investment. SO WHAT? Instead he proved that his shows are worth paying $5 for even with many people downloading the shows for free he still made enough money to continue working that way. His business model is sound, the people who believe their business model must be protected by government regulations are wrong and the government shouldn't be serving any company. Government for the people, by the people, of the people, right?

    So it's hight of hypocrisy to be PRO-copyright and PRO-patent while complaining about bank bailouts also with public money! After all, the copyright police (FBI and such), that's also public money. The prison system where people can go for violation of copyright also is public money.

    Many don't see the problem with their hypocrisy, but they also do not want SOPA and PIPA.

    Well you can't have copyrights and patents and NOT have SOPA and PIPA eventually.

    Just like you can't have abolition of the Cons

  • by Kidbro (80868) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @09:30AM (#38737560)

    To be honest, I don't know how many sales this is costing me, but not knowing isn't a particularly comfortable feeling.

    Do you know how many sales it is giving you []?

  • Get People to Panic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @09:32AM (#38737584)

    What Can You Do About SOPA and PIPA?

    Take SOPA/PIPA seriously. By that I mean if YOU, or a company is going to protest, then do more than have a small link at the bottom of your screen (like Google). Or do absolutely NOTHING, like Slashdot. Yes I know the majority of people who read Slashdot are aware of the issues, but to anybody who pays attention it looks as if (companies like) Slashdot don't care; because they don't even have a banner add voicing their opposition to aggressive Internet police states. I read Slashdot everyday and I haven't heard anything from Management about any opposition.

    The power here lies not with businesses, but with the individual (i.e. People Power); if religious fanatics can get companies to stop advertising the reality TV show All American Muslim, then certainly the majority of normal people can get companies to stop supporting Internet censorship and an Internet police state.

    People need to take this seriously. People usually panic after it is already too late. As a recent example; the crew of the Italian cruise liner that sank only told people to abandon ship after about an hour after it started sinking and after the ship already started to keel over. Of course I could point out Nazi Germany; most people didn't complain because most people weren't effected until the allies started bombing residential neighborhoods in Berlin. Sometimes it takes a kick in the ass to get people to realize that their government's policies are evil.

    Ordinary people need to email their friends and families about this issue, and they need to include links to their representatives telling them to oppose these overwhelmingly evil measures. They need to use Facebook, instant messaging and anything else to communicate the urgency of the issue. Also as important people need to remind the public NOT TO BELIEVE WHAT GOVERNMENT AND INDUSTRY ARE SAYING. This is important. People are continually told that repressive measures are only for the good of the country. This is a lie and people need to be exposed to the fact that they are being lied to.

    People need to be told that this is NOT a copyright issue, but an excuse where governments and large corporations can have unprecedented control over YOUR communications. They need to be told that this measure is used to enforce corporate power and greed, and that ordinary artists, like usual will not be the benefactors of "copyright" enforcement, but only the people who actually own and control the copyrights (which is usually a corporate entity) will benefit. These measures will further erode copyright by giving the companies with access to lawyers and politicians an unfair advantage over smaller companies and the consumer. They need to be told not to believe Rupert Murdock because he is not trustworthy. They need to be told not to believe Sony because they are not trustworthy. They need to be told not to believe the Big Lie that congress is being paid big money to support:

    Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian on CNBC: "Why is it that when Republicans and Democrats need to solve the budget and the deficit, there's deadlock, but when Hollywood lobbyists pay them $94 million dollars to write legislation, people from both sides of the aisle line up to co-sponsor it?"

    Reference: []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @09:32AM (#38737592)

    Last week my congresscritter held a public information session, which I attended. He is hard-core Tea Party. During the q&a I told him that SOPA was a mistake and should be stopped. He seemed to appreciate the problems with SOPA and gave a very similar reply to the one from the White House.

    I think is is important that more people visibly communicate with their representatives that they are opposed to such laws, and that the people are closely watching Congress.

    The really sad part was the reaction of the majority of the audience, average age estimated in the 60's. They either had no clue at all, or felt it was a good thing that the government was controlling the internet.

    An elderly gentleman accosted me afterwards and said that he had been "hacked" and that if I were ever hacked I would support the government clamping down in the internet. I tried to explain SOPA to him, but it was a lost cause.

  • by dasunt (249686) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @09:33AM (#38737598)

    I'm being serious. Make a super-PAC and use it in the next election season against people who introduce or push bills like SOPA and PIPA. Attack politicians where it hurts: Election year.

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Moof (859402) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @09:34AM (#38737628)

    What's ridiculous is that Google only put it in small text on their homepage

    That, and the giant black box over their name. Honestly, the Google link seems to be getting passed around people on Facebook like wildfire. And I'm loving it because the people I'm seeing spread it around are not my nerd friends, but the "average joes" who don't keep up on tech rights and such. Google's approach may not be as drastic as others, but it's definitely getting attention.

  • by thepainguy (1436453) <> on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @09:42AM (#38737760) Homepage
    Valid point.

    I guess I'd be more comfortable with/less bothered by this if I had a story that I could point to where a sale was driven by a download of pirated copy, but I don't have one yet (which of course doesn't mean it hasn't happened).

    I also think this may work better for authors with multiple works; they hook people with pirated copies and then make their money by selling them their new stuff. Many people seem to do this on the Apple eBook store. Of course, that could make an argument for breaking books up into smaller pieces (e.g. turn a three-section book into three separate books) so that this approach can be used.
  • Re:What you can do (Score:3, Interesting)

    by crymeph0 (682581) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @09:47AM (#38737822)
    Thanks, troll. I actually had the opposite problem - I was wondering if they chickened out on the blackout. I guess they figure anyone savvy enough to use NoScript is already aware of these bills.
  • Nothing you can do (Score:4, Interesting)

    by alexo (9335) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @09:48AM (#38737838) Journal

    The only thing you can do against the likes of these laws that harm the public in order to cater to short-term special interests is to ensure that your elective representatives answer to you and only you (plural), so you could easily kick them out of office AND INTO PRISON when they begin to contemplate such shenanigans.

    To achieve that you have to first vote out all the D's and the R's and replace them with people that are willing to criminalize corruption to an extent that will make premeditated murder look like jaywalking in comparison, revoke corporate personhood, make corporate executives personally responsible for the actions of the respective corporations and in general restore sanity to all branches of government.

    In other words: it will never happen.

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PT_1 (2425848) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @09:59AM (#38737964)
    Yeah, same here; it's seems to be only showing the logo to US visitors.
  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smpoole7 (1467717) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:05AM (#38738010) Homepage

    One of our morning talk show hosts -- who's about as conservative as they come -- devoted most of his program to SOPA and PIPA this morming. As a result, a lot of people who'd never heard of it are now very annoyed and are expressing their displeasure toward their Congress Critters. :)

    Heh. Heh, heh.

    I'm actually feeling pretty encouraged this morning. It has been a while since I felt that way.

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ByOhTek (1181381) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:08AM (#38738048) Journal

    Indeed. There were several people I was talking to, today about the wikipedia outage, who wanted to know what the big deal was (one even tried to defend SOPA). My general comparison was similar to the patriot act, but instead of dismantling checks and balance within the government some tenuous terrorism issues, it's dismantling checks on certain abusive businesses over piracy (which will be only minimally mitigated, at the cost of, probably billions, to other companies and individuals).

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ByOhTek (1181381) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:10AM (#38738072) Journal


    Funny, almost as many people I talked to noticed Google as noticed Wikipedia. They all had the same questions - wtf is SOAP and why do I care. I helped inform them as to what and why they cared, if they valued a useable internet, amongst other potential financial issues from SOPA.

  • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <> on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:14AM (#38738144) Journal

    You do now. Actually, I'll give you two.

    The runner up story is Susan Boyle. When Wikipedia comes off blackout, go look her up and check the sales records - some such highest selling new artist in X years.

    But let's do your story.

    If you're gutsy, you'll post a link to your book and dedicate it "A gift to protest SOPA". Pick a CC license, I suggest "Attribution Only" (So that people can't replace your name, but all told, people are usually pretty good at keeping original artist names on their copies.) Put a rider in "Since this copy originated on a special post, please let me know if this copy inspires you to buy it". Give us an address to send checks/payments to, etc.

    Or, if you are still a little squeamish, send *me* all that info which I won't re-share, but I'll report my results. My email is "not obfuscated" so send it along!

  • by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @10:35AM (#38738390)

    You don't make contributions when you want something done, it looks like bribery. You make your contributions when they are running for office. Then they look up who gave them money on sites like Open Secrets, and pay attention to those donors.

    You don't just send a check to the politician. Everyone who complains about money in politics seems to not get this, or have a completely wrong understanding of how it works. You supported them in the past, and they do not want to lose support, so they go with the big money. A politician is not for sale on particular issues, he is for sale to the highest bidder. Then the highest bidder tells him what to do on the issues.

    If you want to take a step back and say maybe they are only partly corrupt, then the lobbyist who represents big money gets to spend time educating the Congress Critter, while the opposition gets a handshake and a nod and a form letter.

    The game has rules, if you want to play you have to understand them. "Send money with your letter" is not helpful advice unless you just want a population too jaded to even bother voting or contacting their Representative Rodent or Senatorial Snake.

  • Military tactic? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 3seas (184403) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:01AM (#38738680) Homepage Journal

    constrain communications of those your consider enemies?

    The Declaration of Independence expresses a feedback loop "Of the People, By the People, For the People". The founders recognized it is the people right and DUTY to keep their government in check. But they also foresaw the probability of government to deteriorate and fail the people. And they provided the people with instructions to follow in doing their duty as U.S. Citizens, to put off the current government and replace it with governance that will follow the feedback loop the founders intended.

    For this feedback loop to work, the people need information about what their government is doing. Bradley Manning showed intent to make such information available to the people. Wikileaks made similar information available to the people and the Occupy movement is providing the government with feedback from the people.

    There is plenty evidence the government is violating the founders intended feedback loop. When any system requiring a feedback loop for verification on staying on course, fails... lost and in this case its clear skerd happens.

    The government lives in its own world, has its own laws, even Washington DC is separated from the Union, its own country more or less (like Vatican City, separate from Italy, and London separate from England). The Government has its own benefits, retirement, medical, etc...all different than The People that are supposed to be a part "Of the People, By the People, For the People".

    Addiction and what the addicted will do in denial and to maintain their addiction, and regarding the government, military command is certainly included.

    So yeah, military tactic of constraining free communication of the enemy......they have been identifying as "The People."

    The Founders of the United States gave us, the people, instructions to follow in doing our duty. See the Declaration of Independence for it.

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GargamelSpaceman (992546) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:04AM (#38738716) Homepage Journal

    To me, not censoring the free content is more important than all the copyrighted content in existence.

    That is, if I had to choose between censorship and deleting all copyrighted content from existence, I would choose to delete the copyrighted material.

  • Media blackout (Score:3, Interesting)

    by aztrailerpunk (1971174) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:04AM (#38738718)

    It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information use their services.

    The full response from MPAA makes fill with the rage of a thousand suns. I finally saw some media coverage on SOPA. It was on CNN, it stated that wikipedia was having a blackout in protest of Sopa but was immediately followed up with Time Warner who owns CNN support this bill. It took her less than 10 seconds to report and then she quickly moved on to the next subject.

  • Re:Oblig XKCD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:12AM (#38738822) Homepage Journal

    Actually, every business gets government protection in various forms.

    - you are missing my point. My point is that no business should be able to claim any protection from government, and when it happens it is wrong.

    I can't, for example, go and steal my competitors product and sell it as my own.

    - what's called 'property rights'. Tangible property, but you would be actually surprised with my stance on it - I am against government police being used for this as well, I am pretty much against government meddling in these affairs, it's a private matter. Do you understand my position? Theft is a private matter, not a matter for public protectionism.

    Government is supposed to be there to protect your liberties and freedoms, but this does not mean to protect your liberties and freedoms against other non-government civilians.

    My position is that government is inherently evil, but it must exist to occupy the space where otherwise the evil would exist that didn't have public legitimacy on its side.

    The point of government is to exist to occupy space of where the inherent evil lives and to protect the individuals from the inherent evil that occupies that space. Now, whether it is realistic to expect some entity to occupy space of evil and not turn evil itself ... (and my argument goes further, but I am not going there in this discussion), but basically government exists to protect people FROM ITSELF.

    It is the government force that we are all vulnerable to. Other individuals and companies - that's a private matter.

    Now governments failed people completely, including the court system, the Supreme Court in USA as well, so this just shows how inherent the evil is and how it permeates into whatever entity that is occupying that space.

    But the Constitution is law above government, and government broke that law long ago and it continues to brake it every day. Government protecting people from government does not mean that government must protect people from other people.

    I think this is very important and this is where the theory of government and understanding of government is so completely flawed.

    The system that exists to supposedly protect people from crime should not be the same and must not be conspiring with the system that exists to occupy the space of evil government power.

    Once you mix together the system of government, which is supposed to provide you with freedoms from itself, and you mix it with system that may be set up to provide you with security from other individuals, you end up with a government system that has the tools and the will to destroy your liberties.

    The separation of power (legislative, judicial, executive) in government is not done correctly and that's where the fault in current government theory shows itself.

    Thus your presumption that government must protect you from EITHER copyright violations OR theft is wrong, because NONE of those things are supposed to be done by government force.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:19AM (#38738918)
    Does anyone on /. need their awareness raised about SOPA?

    Google could have done more, but as a matter of probability they are doing a good job -- if 1% of their users notice the big black rectangle over their logo, that amounts of millions of people who will be informed. I like Wikipedia's approach, although it is understandable that a business like Google cannot afford to shut down their operations for an entire day (especially when their competitors are not doing so -- even if Wikipedia were a business, what competitors can you think of?).
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:25AM (#38739008) Homepage

    The real question is, how many sales does piracy cost you compared to how many sales it gains you by spreading awareness of your existence?

    That is the real question for copyright holders to rationally support SOPA, and I agree with your implication that it may be shaky ground. Rational societal support of SOPA is even more conservative than that.

    Society's balancing point is at delta copyright profit versus total cost of copyright enforcement. Your formula above, lost sales versus gained sales, is one of the factors in calculating delta profit. If that value is positive, copyright holders would support SOPA. But that is not enough for society to benefit from SOPA. For society to support it, delta profit must exceed total cost of enforcement. (if you are a pure economist -- libertarians would require still more justification for government enforcement) (authoritarians might require less, but authoritarians have no just standing in This Grand Experiment)

    That is how it is with all legislation and enforcement. If the cost of jaywalking is not very high at a particular intersection (very few car versus pedestrian incidents), you don't have to enforce the law too strictly. If a particular stretch of highway out in the desert is sufficiently desolate, you don't have to invest as much in enforcing the speed limit. Heck, we even have limits on murder enforcement -- if we didn't, there would be no such thing as a cold case file.

    We are acting as though we cannot stop writing more copyright law until infringement ceases to exist. As you rightly point out, this is not necessarily in the rational interests of the protected class. And beyond that is the rational interests of society, which are far more conservative regarding copyright enforcement.

    Considered in this coldly rational light, it is hard to think that we are anywhere but far beyond the rational societal balancing point of copyright grants and enforcement.

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swillden (191260) <> on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:39AM (#38739190) Homepage Journal

    One of our morning talk show hosts -- who's about as conservative as they come -- devoted most of his program to SOPA and PIPA this morming. As a result, a lot of people who'd never heard of it are now very annoyed and are expressing their displeasure toward their Congress Critters. :)

    Heh. Heh, heh.

    I'm actually feeling pretty encouraged this morning. It has been a while since I felt that way.

    I noticed that one of my two Senators' web sites is down this morning. The site of the one who has been publicly opposing PIPA (Mark Udall) is chugging along just fine, but I think the other one (Michael Bennett) has gotten hammered. :-)

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:43AM (#38739218) Homepage Journal

    That's why this is a particularly good time (right now, not November) to strike back at the people who are most responsible for it [], rather than just the bills. It'll only be about one third as effective in the Senate, but for the House, every one of them needs to lose their party's nomination and not be on the ballots in November (unless they want to run as independents). This is something Democrats and Republicans can work together on, as such a cleanup would effect both of them about equally and doesn't really have any sort of partisan ideological component.

    If we establish a rule that pushing this kind of nonsense can only be done by sacrificing the next election, it'll help a lot. And eventually the revolving list of supporters will all be junior reps without important committee positions to make it happen. SOPA only got as far as it did, because its top dog has so much seniority (since 1987!!?! WTF is wrong with you, TX-21?).

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tehcyder (746570) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @11:55AM (#38739376) Journal

    Not for me. Maybe it's only for US users, but I think everyone in the world should be aware of this.

    And what precisely are non-US citizens supposed to do about an impending piece of US legislation? Email Barack Obama?

  • by hAckz0r (989977) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @12:39PM (#38739870) Homepage
    By using the same peer to peer technology that has been attacked by the big Media companies we could invent a distributed DNSSEC tool set (e.g. client proxy, dynamic servers ) so that there is no centralized root domains to be quashed or lobotomized by any Government, domestic or foreign. A web site with its own signing key could create and send out a broadcast packet containing its hosts IP information, complete with a signed token which can be verified by any server or peer, and would include a time stamp and to live indicator in the packet to aid in self revocation. Any local peers which intercept the initial announcement packet could pass that information on to seed the any p2p DNS community at large, via a large and dynamic but voluntary set of DNSSEC seed trackers. Any DNSSEC information which is not cryptographically verifiable would not be accepted or forwarded at the seeder/tracker level, as only verifiable addresses would be added to the p2p distributed database, and newer packets always supersede older packets.

    When an Internet client connects to the Internet it puts out a request to locate any local seeder/trackers, and then requests from them any addresses that the client requires. The dynamic seeder/trackers split up the domain information to organize the domain data efficiently, as to ensure the proper data replication in case of network partitioning or link failures. The client request is returned if found in its cache, otherwise it is forwarded based on the current domain mapping between servers. Before trusting the returned DNS record the client would first need to verify that DNS record via the sites published PKI public key.

    Without a single centralized point of control there would be no way to 'take a domain down' once the information is published to the cloud. The weakest link would be at the ISP's Internet connection, but then the initial DNS injection point need not be at the same location, as any client even on a dialup connection could inject the initial announcement packets if it contains the properly signed data.

    Yes, I realize there have been some p2p efforts in the past, but its now time to take this seriously.

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @12:39PM (#38739876)

    Do what the subject line says. Spread the word. No, you cannot influence it, but it WILL have an effect on you. A lot of the pages you ("you" being here the people you should inform, not you per se) use are hosted in the US, including Facebook, Twitter and so many other pages where you "have" a page that you WILL be fully responsible for. You think your government will not extradite you over petty crap like copyright? Think again! Richard O'Dwyer might tell you a different story.

    Pages that you "own" but didn't check for years? Well, maybe you should check your guestbook again. Maybe someone posted a link that infringes on someone's copyright, and you will be held liable for it. Yes, you there in Sweden, Australia or South Africa.

    But hey, let's look on the bright side, it's never been easier to get rid of a rival. Hack his page, or just fill his FB page with half the pirate bay links while he's on vacation. He'll win another one. All expenses paid.

    This and so much more is in it for you, dear non-citizen of the US.

    And yes, I find it highly ironic that a law like that comes from a country whose people started a revolution over having no say in the regulations and laws that affect them.

  • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <> on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @01:13PM (#38740246) Journal

    Update: The gentleman did in fact email me a copy, so now it's my turn to decide what happens next.

    A couple of notes:

    A Legit issue underneath all the snow-job the **AA is churning out is that there is indeed a longer gestation period for "non-traditional sales" so on purpose I "won't pay today". (Otherwise that's just more of an inverted retail transaction.)

    Also this situation is different because "the clock starts today" whereas the poster's point was that he couldn't figure out the "correlation - causation" link between unknown downloads vs. sales.

    This feels like an important project for me and my stance on copyright, so everyone, watch for further posts later in other threads and we'll see where it all goes. Mr. Author, please pay extra care not to "get impatient" here. I have some ideas but the time passing is in fact part of the point, so that it doesn't just become astroturfing.

    See you all In Another Thread!

  • Re:Spread the word (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fishbowl (7759) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @01:23PM (#38740356)

    I keep hoping that all this draconian copyright legislation has the following unintended consequences:

    1. Creative works of independent origin become far more common, eclipsing the corpus of work that is represented by "mainstream media publishing".

    2. The same draconian laws that are meant to protect corporate publishers, put an extremely powerful weapon into the hands of independent authors.

    Imagine if stuff like the $5,000,000 fine provisions of a law like SOPA could be applied to enforce compliance with Creative Commons licensing terms.

    Stop consuming the stuff "They" want you to consume. Everybody should be making their own stuff already, totally making "Them" irrelevant. Do it for profit, do it for fun, do it just because you can, but for goodness sake, do it. Take photos with these great cameras we have today, and publish them. Write songs, and set them to music with these awesome music making tools we have. Make your own films. Don't do it in terms of "competing with the industry." Do it *in spite* of "the industry." Make it so that there's so much media of independent origin that the media corporations have to work to compete with the public. And when someone takes your copyrighted work and publishes it as their own, use the weapon that copyright law provides. This alone could end up bringing down the media cartels.

    But nobody really wants to be creative just because they can, do they?

  • Re:Oblig XKCD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ahodgson (74077) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @01:44PM (#38740588)

    Your argument is just stupid. In a free country government is the means by which we organize to protect ourselves against other people, and get other things done that make sense to do collectively. Just because you call it government doesn't make it automatically evil. Protecting property rights is an essential basic bedrock means of creating a free country in the first place.

    If we didn't have government we'd have security companies with so many subscribers that they would essentially be governments, only we wouldn't be able to vote for who runs them. The last time we tried that on a large scale we called it the Middle Ages. Turns out the security companies found it amusing to constantly make war on other security companies, and kill a lot of their subscribers in the process. And they weren't big on the voluntary part of signing up. No more than government is today, of course.

    I'd like to see federal and state(/provincial) governments do a LOT less, but the things that municipal governments tend to be good at still need to get done, and it makes a lot more sense to do it in a non-profit everyone-contributes kind of way than through other mechanisms.

    As for copyright ... it used to make sense. For a limited time, to genuinely encourage the creation of new works, it makes sense. To pass to giant corporations and be extended forever, definitely not. I really don't think Disney would stop making movies if they only had copyright on the works for 10 or 20 years. Their payback period is much less. And gaining the power to arbitrarily shut down Internet sites without due process will just break a lot of things, not stop the theft anyway. So it's all stupid.

The trouble with a lot of self-made men is that they worship their creator.